It’s been one week since my arrival to the Indian subcontinent, and I have only one word: impressive. I need to admit that before getting into the mood and disposition to travel to India, I was blind and close to know and discover such an amazing cultural place in this world. Even though, the longest journey I’ve ever had from Mexico until India really worth.
As a non-typical Latin guy, my background is totally different as it suppose to be; my white skin and new short haircut, besides my Turkish features were advising I was a foreigner for sure. Walking along the Mumbai’s airport, looks where surrounding me revealing their curiosity. Moreover, a Mexican flag tack on my backpack was generating more curiosity within people about my mission there.
Leaving the airport, just heading to the only exit available in the whole place, a crowd was aligned as a square periphery letting any person to search for relatives, friends, the internet-lover-chat-guy kind of thing, and a bunch of cab drivers grabbing names of people they were waiting for. Scared because of the latent possibility of no catching up the taxi driver, there it was my full name, asking for my passport or any kind of ID. Getting into the cab, the first movement of the cab rider was to blow the horn, then I realized these guys are crazy when are driving, and love to blow at any moment, anywhere, for any reason. India’s traffic is the craziest thing you will find. Compared to Mexico City, any city in India share the same madness environment within the streets. No formal signals, 5 lanes instead of the 3 supposed to be, lot of motorcyclists, lot of bike riders, besides people walking through the traffic.
During the journey until the guesthouse where I was going to sleep until next morning to get into Pune, the poverty surroinding Mumbai was unbelievable. It wasn’t just few blocks of people living in pseudo wooden houses without any formal roadway, it was an unstoppable picture of poverty faraway the horizon. Although, I arrived to fancy place compared with what I saw, contrasting at this point, but making me think about where all those rich Indians were living.
I slept, and next morning the same cab driver named Atit, went for me to drive all the highway until Pune, my final destination. After crossing a tollbooth, we stopped just to take some air at a market. Lot of people were hanging around, with all these little stands selling food, shishas, and other random things. Incredible to see some Mexican dishes, combined with Indian food. Then we get into Pune, and arriving to the place where I am staying, this place is a city within the city, a different space with a different sense.
Even the distance between the place where I live and Pune’s downtown or main chill areas, I have 2 cab rides per week completely included in my stay here. Obviously, I need to take advantage of them, so no matter it was Sunday, I went out with another Mexican collegue for a couple of beers in one of the best hotels in the city. As part of a developing country, the feeling of going to a place cheaper than Mexico, never had occurred, until this week. Two young Mexican men, announcing relaxation at first sigh, just hanging around to have some beers. We felt like kings, like an European tourist travelling within Latinamerica, like a person without any concerns in life. We had the feeling of request anything, without minding about the money, because not only the hotel, but because the main country is cheap. Now drink is not a problem, we are really enjoying parties and weekends.
About the food, at the beginning was a really problem. Personally, I didn’t know what to expect. I was ready only for the typical advises such as lot of spices, watch out with the street food, or get prepared because there won’t be any beef meet. But because of true Mexican food, and its spicy essence, food haven’t been a problem. Rice, chicken, Indian-Chinese dishes, and of course spiciness are part of the daily meal. You can find Chapati, a similar thing to tortilla, or even Lentejas, where here they call them as Chana. Nevertheless, people from over the world don’t accept the challenge of trying something new, or try to really live a cultural experience, so they eat in fast-food places where anyway, you won’t be able to get beef meet.
Before arriving, I researched in order to find basic advises about the culture. I heard lot of things of this place before investigating, and one of the heaviest statements was that many illnesses exist only here in India, and that’s because the poor grooming initiative people have, and added to their perspiring smelt most likely to black pepper, was the only fact that really matter at the end. The other facts that I found are also true, but once you live within the culture, you realize they don’t matter, because it is a different culture, and that helps you to live the experience in this country in an enriching way. Man hugging/taking others hand meaning best friendship, people taking a shit/pee at the noon on the streets, some warriors eating with only one hand because the left one is used to clean when they poop; facts that really happen, but are part of a their rich culture.
Anyway, people are living a change because of a better education of a great developed country. Some years ago, marriages were predefined, now they aren’t at most. People now take decisions, are prepaired to live better, and can kiss a girlfriend walking in downtown. We are living a different India compared with the one from few decades ago. And definitely there are some existing customs really attached to the people, but that’s what give happiness to people, even they are one of the poorest countries around the world. Actually, most of the people don’t have the posibilities to get outside of the country. Moreover, they don’t have any access to external or global sources to know more about what happens around the world, but they don’t care because they live their culture, they live their happiness.